The Tampa Bay Rays traded Ben Zobrist for a package of players that included minor leaguer Daniel Robertson. Now, they are hoping that Robertson can be the next Zobrist.
One of the hallmarks for the Tampa Bay Rays over the past decade has been the super utility player. Since the time of Ben Zobrist, the Rays have had that player who could slot all over the diamond, capable of playing virtually anywhere. While Nick Franklin is expected to fill that role this season, the Rays could have a second super utility option in Daniel Robertson.
Interestingly enough, Robertson was included in the Rays trade of Zobrist to the Oakland Athletics prior to the 2015 season. While Zobrist made his living as a super utility player, even earning an All Star nod due to that flexibility and solid production, he eventually settled in as a second baseman and right fielder. And yet, while Zobrist had more of a set spot on the field, Tampa Bay has been looking for someone to fill that role.
Although Robertson was primarily a shortstop prior to last year, he became a bit of a utility infielder for Durham. Despite playing majority of his games at short, Robertson appeared in more than 20 games at second and third last season as well, adding that positional flexibility to his profile.
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Robertson has also displayed a solid bat as he progressed through the minors. Last season, at 22 years old, he produced a respectable .258/.358/.356 batting line, hitting 21 doubles. Overall, in his five minor league seasons, Robertson has a .278/.368/.412 batting line, with 111 doubles. He also has an excellent batting eye, drawing 230 walks in 2194 plate appearances.
It is highly unlikely that Robertson will ever develop into a power threat, but his offensive profile does have value. While some of those doubles could become home runs, he seems unlikely to hit double digit homers in a season. Given his bat control and solid batting eye, he could become a valuable second hitter or a good piece at the bottom of the lineup.
This year, Robertson is going to have some competition to make the Majors. Not only is Franklin already in that super utility role, but the Rays are giving Tim Beckham another chance to make a positive impression. It is likely that Robertson returns to Durham, where he can work on learning second and third, as well as potentially getting some looks in the outfield. However, that does not mean his time there will last all year, especially if Beckham struggles.
After being acquired when the Tampa Bay Rays traded Ben Zobrtist, Daniel Robertson could be the next super utility player for the Rays. In essence, they may have traded Zobrist for a younger version of himself.